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Accurate diagnosis of allograft rejection can be hazardous and challenging. A strategy that has emerged from experience with vascularized composite allografts (VCAs) is the use of sentinel skin transplants (SSTs)-portions of donor skin transplanted synchronously to an allograft. Work in nonhuman animal models and experience with VCAs suggest concordance between rejection occurring in the primary allograft and the SST, and that appearance of rejection in the SST may precede rejection in the primary allograft, permitting early therapeutic intervention that may improve outcomes with lower rates of chronic rejection. The encouraging findings reported in VCA transplantation raise the possibility that SST may also be useful in solid organ transplantation. Some evidence is provided by experience with abdominal wall transplantation in some intestinal and multivisceral transplant recipients. Results from those reports raise the possibility that rejection may manifest in the skin component before emergence in the intestinal allograft, providing a "lead time" during which treatment of rejection of the abdominal wall could prevent the emergence of intestinal rejection. It is plausible that these findings may be extrapolated to other solid organ allografts, especially those for which obtaining an accurate diagnosis of acute rejection can be hazardous and challenging, such as the lung or pancreas. However, more data are required to support widespread adoption of this technique.

Original publication




Journal article


Transplant Proc

Publication Date





2565 - 2570


Animals, Composite Tissue Allografts, Graft Rejection, Humans, Organ Transplantation, Preoperative Care, Skin Transplantation, Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation